How to change the climate prognosis

Today's the last day to register to vote in 12 states, including 5 battleground states.

President Donald Trump speaks to California Governor Gavin Newsom on September 14, 2020 during a briefing on wildfires. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images.

The climate crisis stops for no man, even (especially) Donald Trump in the hospital.

While the coronavirus-stricken commander-in-chief has been “working” in his medical suite, 23 major wildfires have been working their way through heat-stressed California, continuing an “unfathomable” wildfire season that’s now burned more than double the previous record.

While Trump’s been firing off steroid-induced tweetstorms, yet another actual storm has been brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, continuing a record-breaking hurricane season fueled by the steroid boost of warmer ocean temperatures.

While the president has been receiving an unprecedented mix of treatments for his personal sickness, he’s also been making sure the unprecedented climate sickness plaguing America remains largely untreated, continuing his agenda of repealing climate rules and regulations.

Trump’s doctors say his condition is improving. Scientists say the planet’s is not.

Whether the latter prognosis will change hinges largely on what happens in 29 days. And what happens in 29 days might hinge on what happens today.

It’s the last day to register to vote in 12 states

Readers of this newsletter often ask me what they can do as individuals to help make a difference in the climate fight. Well, here’s something you can do today: Make sure you and your loved ones are registered to vote, because today might be the last day you’re able to do it.

Today—October 5, 2020—is the last day to register to vote in 12 states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

Of those 12 states, five are particularly important battleground states, which election observers say could go a long way in deciding the outcome of next month’s election. Those states are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Texas and Ohio.

If you live in any of those states, and you are not registered to vote by the end of the day today, you will not get to participate in the most important climate election of our lifetimes. You will lose your chance to have a say in whether we have four more years of active climate destruction, or a chance to change course.

If you don’t want to lose that chance, visit right now to figure out how to register to vote in your state. (If you plan to send in a mail-in ballot, today is also the last day in many of those states to register for that).

Other voter registration deadlines are fast-approaching, too. (See the table below to find your state’s deadline). I’m not going to send out an e-mail like this every time a big one happens, because there’s too much other stuff to cover. So why not just register now?

Also, importantly, only 40 states have the option to register to vote online. Texas is not one of those states, and the deadline is today. I repeat: If you live in Texas, and you are not yet registered to vote, today is the last day to do it and you cannot do it online. You have to fill out an online application, print it, and mail it to your local County Voter Registrar by today.

The climate stakes of the 2020 election

A Biden administration is not a guarantee of climate success, just as wearing a mask is not a guarantee of avoiding coronavirus. But when you’re facing a life-threatening illness, you choose a course of treatment not based on a whether you know it will work, but based on the likelihood of success versus failure.

Climate scientists overwhelmingly agree that the likelihood of failure is far worse under a Trump administration. That’s one reason why Scientific American broke a 175-year tradition of avoiding politics this year to make its first presidential endorsement. “The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science,” the magazine wrote last month.

Trump also keeps pushing to eliminate health rules from the Environmental Protection Agency, putting people at more risk for heart and lung disease caused by pollution. He has replaced scientists on agency advisory boards with industry representatives. In his ongoing denial of reality, Trump has hobbled U.S. preparations for climate change, falsely claiming that it does not exist and pulling out of international agreements to mitigate it. The changing climate is already causing a rise in heat-related deaths and an increase in severe storms, wildfires and extreme flooding.

Joe Biden, in contrast, comes prepared with plans to control COVID-19, improve health care, reduce carbon emissions and restore the role of legitimate science in policy making. He solicits expertise and has turned that knowledge into solid policy proposals.

Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann echoed these comments in an interview with the Guardian last week. “If we are going to avert ever more catastrophic climate change impacts, we need to limit warming below a degree and a half Celsius, a little less than three degrees Fahrenheit,” he said. “Another four years of what we’ve seen under Trump, which is to outsource environmental and energy policy to the polluters and dismantle protections put in place by the previous administration … would make that essentially impossible.”

The late state of the climate game we’re in pretty much guarantees a long fight ahead—no matter who wins. The question is what kind of fight we’re going to have; what kind of work we’re going to have to do; what kind of articles myself and other journalists are going to have to write.

That question will be answered by the outcome of the November 3 election. That outcome will be determined, in part, by how many people are able to vote. If you want to be able to vote, you have to register.

You can learn more about how to register to vote at Science Rising, the National Association of Secretaries of State, or Taylor Swift’s voter information page. (I swear to God, it’s actually pretty useful).

The climate work to do if Biden wins

Should Biden win in November, it’s increasingly looking like the main climate fight ahead will be reigning in outside influence from fossil fuel interests and lobbyists, as well as policy advisers who have historically supported fossil fuel growth. Here’s some related reading on those concerns from the last few weeks.

  • Biden bans fossil fuel “leaders” from transition team, but doesn’t go much further. Last week, Biden vowed to bar from his transition team any ‘leaders’ of fossil fuel companies, a pledge environmentalists cautiously applauded while urging the former vice president to go further by committing to banning all Big Oil lobbyists and executives from both his transition team and cabinet.” Biden’s ethics pledge bans people who have been registered lobbyists in the last 12 months from joining the transition team, but gives the campaign discretion to grant exemptions. (Common Dreams).

  • Several of Biden’s informal advisers and confidants are Obama administration veterans who have embraced fossil fuels and fracking. “Vague platitudes in a speech or campaign proposal aren’t the best indicator of a candidate’s direction, nor of what will actually influence a Joe Biden White House. There is a better gauge: personnel. … [and] several of Biden’s informal advisers and confidants on energy policy are veterans of the Obama administration’s ‘all of the above’ strategy, which embraced fossil fuel development and technologies like fracking while publicly trumpeting clean energy commitments.” (The Intercept).

  • The Biden Adviser Who Gives Climate Activists Nightmares. “[Ernest Moniz], a “good friend” of Biden’s, has been informally advising his campaign since at least last May, and his Energy Futures Initiative’s partnership with certain unions has been an influential voice in crafting the former vice president’s and the party’s approach to climate issues. Sources tracking transition talks say he could even be in the running to take back his old job as energy secretary. That’s a prospect that worries climate watchers.” (The New Republic).

At least they’re eating their vegetables

The Biden campaign held an event over the weekend featuring many fruits and vegetables, including this eggplant. This newsletter is a fan of all plants. We support this development.

This is the future liberals want.

(Pics from Biden campaign event today via Getty Images)
October 5, 2020

Trump’s former doctor once said he had to secretly slip vegetables into the president’s food like a 5-year-old to get him to consume them.

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Stay hydrated, eat plants, do push-ups, and have a great day!